F3 Derby critical to avoid A-League wooden spoon

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Paul Okon and Mark Jones are desperate to avoid finishing last in the A-League in their debut seasons as head coaches

Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon has claimed Sunday's F3 Derby against Newcastle Jets could define his team's season.

With both sides battling to avoid the wooden spoon in the 2016-17 A-League, Jets boss Mark Jones labelled the fixture "win-at-all-costs".

Newcastle head into the weekend in ninth position in the table - only behind eighth-placed Adelaide United on goal difference and two points ahead of the Mariners.

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Both teams have lost their past four matches to drift out of finals contention and down to the bottom of the table.

"We've got ourselves from being in a position to be in the six to fighting Central Coast and Adelaide for the position at the bottom, so 100 per cent, [it's] win-at-all-costs," Jones said on Friday.

Okon added: "This game means everything for us. It potentially - for many - may define our season."

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Sunday's game will be Central Coast's last home fixture of the campaign and Okon couldn't think of a better way to bid farewell to the Mariners' faithful with a crucial match against their archrivals.

He hopes that inspires a big crowd to attend.

"We've had two derbies to date and we had an outrageous number turn up for the two games in Newcastle, so if you're thinking about coming don't think about it, just turn up, because we need your support. You've been magnificent this season," Okon said.

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Newcastle will be without suspended Wayne Brown and Jones called on his potential attacking replacements to "make a difference".

The Jets have scored just two goals in their past seven games.

Jones also explained that he has lined up more recruits after the Jets unveiled Daniel Georgievski and Mario Shabow as signings for 2017-18 over the past fortnight.

"Of the team that started last week, seven of those boys will be here next year, so it's not a massive cleanout in terms of the starting XI," Newcastle's boss said.

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"It's about bringing in some quality to bolster the strength of the team and then outside of that - basically squad members 12 to 23 - we want some more depth and some more competition for places."

Newcastle haven't lost to the Mariners in seven meetings but the Jets have only won twice in that period.

 

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